Insufficient data from Andrew Fryer

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SQL Server 2008 End User Reporting

I have been seeing a fair bit of confusion about the new end user reporting tools in SQL Server 2008, so I thought it would be good to try and clear it up.

In SQL Server 2005 there is a Report Builder tool that relies on a Report Model.  The report Model is created by an IT guy and what the end user can report on.  There are two ways to create a model:

  • In the BI dev studio suing the Report model project add-in. Here a model defines the relationships between a set of relational tables, as well as the ability to add derived columns and give existing ones friendly names.
  • In Report Manager (the portal used to control reporting services) a model can be created directly on top of an analysis services cube, from the properties of an analysis services data source.

The end user can then go to report manager and download a click once application which is now called Report Builder v1.  This has quite limited functionality compared to the tools available in BI Dev Studio, but does create a valid report file which the user can publish to reporting services. 

In SQL Server 2008 Report Builder V1 will still be there as will the tools to create models.  However there is also Report Builder v2, the tool formerly known as the Report Designer Preview and Blue (because of it’s blue office toolbar).  Currently in RC0 the tool is not in the SQL Server 2008 install, it is in the separate feature pack here.  Unlike v1 Report Builder v2 has the full feature set of the designer inside BI Dev Studio so users are no longer limited to just using a model.

The confusion is that both versions will be supplied with SQL Sever 2008, but v1 won’t be changed at all so you can’t use the new shiny charts or any of the other new stuff in SQL Server 2008 reporting services. 

I do think Report Builder v2 is a big step in the right direction as it will allow proper collaboration on reports between the techies and the users.  For example I could:

  • Create the model as before but now the users can us all  of the power of reporting services
  • Setup a blank report with a data source in it and let the user do their own thing
  • Give them more help by providing a blank report with a data source and a result set.
  • Help them get a report working because I can fix it and give back to them for further design work without breaking it as would happen in V1.

Therefore I can concentrate on the data elements of the report and leave the user to the look and feel.